Cannabis industry observers watching the opening of the legal “recreational” marijuana market say the Salem transition has gone well. One month after October 1, when it became legal for adults to purchase recreational cannabis from licensed medical dispensaries, a local dispensary is relieved by the ease of the process.
Prior to the change, some medical patients were worried that medicine would be diverted to the recreational market, or that recreational users would be disrespectful of them. Loren Kruesi, owner of Nature Quest LLC, a two-part business including 1st Step Clinic and 2nd Step Dispensary, says that after nearly two years serving medicinal patients, these are two reasons he waited almost a week before taking on the recreational market.
“I wanted to avoid the stampede and ensure that our medical patients were not harassed, intimidated, or interfered with,” Kruesi says. Noting that he has more than 5,000 medical patients, with more than 500 suffering from military and civilian PTSD, Kruesi says “our medical patients have enough stress and hardship associated with their debilitating conditions” without competing with recreational users.
As was the case with his medicinal business, the high percentage of older people who want to treat themselves with recreational marijuana has surprised Kruesi. “The number of seniors continues to amaze me,” he says.
Dispensaries separate recreational retail consumers and medicinal patients, sending them in different directions or different rooms.
Koby Pederson, originally a Med Tech at Nature Quest LLC who now mostly works as a “bud tender” in the designated rec room at 2nd Step Dispensary says he still uses “that medical knowledge every day in recreational.” “People come in a little timid,” he says. “I like to encourage people to talk about what their needs are.”
Himself primarily a recreational user, Pederson is glad to educate rec users and provide them with quality cannabis. “I believe in the social use,” he says. “When people stop in for marijuana for a relaxing evening, I believe it is safer than them using alcohol.”
Many 2nd Step recreational retail consumers want the same wide variety of strains “and the same service and pricing as the medical patients get,” but Kruesi he says that is not going to happen at this time.
“Mostly, our retail consumers are excited and appreciative,” Kruesi says, “I am also excited and hopeful for the future. All people can benefit from marijuana and hemp in some way.”